Resolutions? Let’s Be SMART About Them.

December 31, 2014

Resolutions? Let’s Be SMART About Them.

Let’s be honest. Just about every one of us has made a New Year’s resolution at least once in our life. The most common subject is weight loss and exercise, but they can cover about anything. Budgeting, quitting a habit, relationships, job, convincing the cat that it’s ok to take a bath… Whatever that resolution is, according to Statistic Brain, 62% of us will end up making one at some point in time. But are you being smart about it? Read the rest of this entry »

National Mentoring Month in Sioux Falls

December 29, 2014

This January, LSS Mentoring Services is asking area residents to “Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters.” As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, we have some fun and exciting things planned!

  • Mayoral Proclamation. Mayor Mike Huether will proclaim January as Mentoring Month in Sioux Falls. A proclamation will be read at the January 6 City Council meeting at 7 PM.
  • Recruitment Rally. On January 15, we are hoping to get as many new mentors as possible! We have set a goal of 24 new mentors in 24 hours on January 15. Watch our Facebook page for updates on our progress.
  • Try-It Events. Have you thought about mentoring but just wanted to check it out before committing? You will have your chance this month! LSS invites adults who are not current mentors to join us at one of four Try-It events. At the event, you will meet a student who wants or needs a mentor. Events are scheduled for Monday, January 19 at Horace Mann; Tuesday, January 20 at Hayward; Thursday, January 22 at RF Pettigrew and Tuesday, January 27 at Robert Frost. Please contact us if you are interested in attending!
  • Prizes! If you are paying attention to our Facebook page, you will have several chances to win prizes in January! We will also post names of mentors and let you know the number of mentors needed at each of the 60+ schools that we partner with to provide quality mentoring services.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, we need to get 100 kids off the waiting list and connected to a mentor this January. If you are looking for some reasons why, here are three:

  1. No child should walk alone. Young people participating in LSS Mentoring Programs are more likely to do better in school and have aspirations for college and career; they’re more equipped to make responsible decisions and model good behavior; and they’re more likely to be productive and engaged citizens – all key factors in building stronger community.
  2. We can’t afford to leave mentoring to chance. There are over 300 local students waiting for a mentor. Let’s make sure to give them a caring, consistent mentor.
  3. You. Being a mentor gives you a chance to give back in a meaningful way and can help you gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, different generations and even of our community.

Happy New Year and Happy National Mentoring Month!

Baby Jesus, the Refugee

December 26, 2014

It’s not part of the Christmas story that gets emphasized…baby Jesus and his parents’ nighttime escape to Egypt soon after His birth…the reigning King Herod’s fearful and furious command to kill all boys under two years of age living in and near Bethlehem. (Matthew 2: 13-18)

Baby Jesus…the refugee.

I wonder how Mary and Joseph, the earthly mother and father of Jesus, survived in Egypt. How did they “make it?” How did Joseph find work? Did Mary make friends? What about their families back home? Were Mary and Joseph able to send any word of their midnight flight to Egypt? Did their families give up hope and succumb to grief, believing the young family had perished under Herod’s orders? Did they feel safe in Egypt…with no documentation? Who welcomed them, showed them kindness?

Sadly this Biblical story plays out everyday in our world. Today mothers and fathers are fleeing with their children across borders or jumping into rickety boats to escape corrupt regimes and violent rebel groups.

Everyday. Right now.

While Christmas lights twinkle and endless advertisements for holiday sales flicker across our screens, whole communities are being displaced and families torn apart in the chaotic flight for survival and safety.

(photo courtesy of darialvovsky on Etsy)

(photo courtesy of darialvovsky on Etsy)

It’s easy at this time of year to picture the tender Nativity scene, and see Jesus as a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. But can we see Jesus in the refugee from Bhutan or Eritrea or Iraq? Can we see Jesus wrapped in two jackets and riding the bus to English class or shuffling quietly behind her shopping cart in the grocery store?

I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, ‘this is hungry Jesus; I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him.’ ~Mother Teresa

Christians believe the baby Jesus was prophesied in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures as being Immanuel, “God with us.” God has come among us. He’s come to Sioux Falls.

Will we welcome Him?

Celebrating Compassion & Kindness This Holy Season

December 24, 2014

Today is a good day to cherish memories of loved ones, embrace those who share our daily lives and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

I begin by honoring the memory of Karla Freeman. Karla not only shared her professional talents through her work as office manager at LSS Counseling Services in Sioux Falls for 19 years, but she cared for those whom LSS served. Sadly, we lost Karla in August 2013 to cancer; however, memories of Karla and her legacy of compassion and kindness will continue to live on.

It started thirteen years ago when Karla saw a client family quietly struggling to get through the holidays. A family who would never ask for help, but needed it desperately. A family who needed to know that someone cared for them and that someone was watching over them.

In the distance, Karla was watching with a compassionate and respectful heart. She sought out a few local donors who were willing to provide gifts to help lighten the heavy load this family was carrying.

The following year, Karla matched a few more local donors with counseling clients who had basic needs during the Christmas holiday, but also a special gift or two to warm their hearts. Over the years, these acts of compassion and kindness have become known as the Adopt-A-Family Program.

2014 Dec 24 Blog picToday, I embrace all staff of LSS Counseling Services who continue the legacy of Karla Freeman. Because of the generosity of nine donors, LSS Counseling Services will help lighten heavy loads for 20 families who are struggling with life’s challenges.

I feel blessed and so appreciative to be surrounded by LSS professionals as well as generous and thoughtful donors across South Dakota who have made LSS one of their giving priorities not only during the holiday season, but year round to provide professional, confidential and affordable services.

May this Christmas season allow you to feel God’s presence and compassion in your life as we cherish memories of loved ones, embrace those who share our daily lives and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

Blessings to you and your family this holy season,

Betty Oldenkamp, LSS President & CEO


Click here to support LSS services and help lighten heavy loads for those who are traveling along life’s weary and difficult road.

Can Christmas be Stressful for Kids?

December 23, 2014

As I tucked my daughter in her bed last night, she was a little weepy. As an education professional devoted to happy, healthy, and educated kids I probably should have figured things out right away. But as a mom, I was just hoping to get her tucked into bed so she wouldn’t be tired in the morning. However, after a few moments I realized that my sweetie may have been experiencing a kid-sized dose of holiday stress.

Kids are not immune to the stress that the Christmas season can sometimes bring. They take cues from the adults around them and some of us may be stretched pretty thin in December. Also, kids thrive on routine. All of the things that break up the usual schedule may be extremely fun but they are still a move away from the comfort of familiarity. Often these changes in schedule involve late nights, skipped naps, changed meal times and very little alone time. From infant to adult, the Christmas season is one that can bring challenges.

Other kids may not show stress in the same way that my daughter did. My youngest tends to act out or whine when stressed. Other kids may mention a tummy ache or lose their appetite. Some kids have an easy tell like nail biting or fidgeting when stressed. It is important to slow down enough to notice the cues that our kids are sending.

For my daughter, the stress came from not knowing what to expect. She knew we had some fun plans for the next few days but didn’t know what would happen and when. We spent some time talking about Christmas gatherings and which family members would be at each event. We talked about what we would eat and even what time we would go to Christmas Eve service at church. That did the trick for her! She was quickly ready for visions of sugarplums to dance through that thought filled head of hers.

Some other strategies to prevent or reduce stress for kids include: ensuring that kids are eating pretty well, following routines when possible, being aware of your own stress, finding moments for the family to rest and of course talking about what your child is feeling. Learn what helps your child unwind and remind them to do it. A hot shower, listening to music, drawing or coloring, petting the cat, for example. My youngest doesn’t seem to be the least bit stressed about upcoming changes in routine or wondering what will happen but I can almost guarantee that by December 26 she will need a few moments alone to curl up with a good book!

Take care of yourself. Take care of your kids. Enjoy Christmas. I’ll be spending it with two happy girls (most of the time) and many other family members, remembering the true reason that we celebrate Christmas. I wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases.

-Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services

do nothing


December 22, 2014

Despite all that we preach and teach here at the Center for Financial resources, as we travel the final approach to Christmas I have one thing to say. In my best (and not that great) Brooklyn-Italian accent, I’ll leave this year off with a big “Fuhgeddaboudit!” (For those needing a Mid-West translation, that’s a slurred together ‘forget about it’.) Read the rest of this entry »

Our Silly Christmas Break Song and a Message

December 18, 2014

Christmas Break 

(to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Dashing to the program
Singing all the day
to Carousel Skate we go
Laughing all the way
80’s wear will bring
cookies left and right
What fun it is to dance and jam
The games will be a sight!

Christmas break, Christmas break,
Giggle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to try
new things every day!
Christmas break, Christmas break,
Crafting all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to play
and get messy in every way.

Christmas break, Christmas break,
Movie, Jammie Day.
Oh! what fun it is to bowl
and dress the 60’s way!
Christmas break, Christmas break,
Fun all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to play
at LSS all Christmas break!

With Christmas break just around the corner, After-School Program staff are working hard to be sure the K-5th grade students are in for some serious fun! They have field trips planned, activities scheduled, dress-up days to look forward to and much more! However, the After-School program is not the only crew enjoying some Christmas adventures. The preschool and 2 year old classes have their big program tonight. I’ve been watching them practice and the cuteness is nearly unbearable! The younger kids have also been busy making adorable art projects and enjoying Christmas songs.

For me there is something magical about watching Christmas through the eyes of a child (or in my case the eyes of hundreds of children!) It is one of the many great blessings of my job. Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this! Christmas is a time I find myself so thankful to God for the many blessings of this life and to my family for being amazing. So, for the parents who choose LSS Childcare and Education for your children, thank you. For the Childcare and Education educators that love and teach kids so well, thank you. For the rest of the LSS team that make each day a reality (from Executive Leadership to accounting, HR to IT and everyone else), thank you. For the generous donors that make the work of LSS a possibility, thank you. Of course, my biggest hug goes to the kids that make me laugh, cry, smile, shake my head and all but burst with joy. Thank you little ones (yes, super cool 5th grade boys- that includes you too!) Merry Christmas! -Heather

Heather DeWit
Director of Childcare and Education Services


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